When I had my original weight loss blog back around 2004 to about 2006, I got these taunting anonymous emails from someone who claimed he knew me. He made a remark that lead me to think he was someone I’d known from Florida. I didn’t play along so he kept writing me and eventually admitted he was a friend of a friend I’d known during the brief time I spent in Ohio. I couldn’t place the guy. To this day I can’t remember who he was. But for twenty years—two freakin’ decades—this guy had held on to some kind of beef with me and long, long after I’d left Ohio, he was still trying to hunt me down and tell me off. I not only didn’t remember him, I didn’t understand the nature of his complaint with me.
You can always tell someone is bothered by something by how much they insist it doesn’t bother them. It’s that way with “haters.” Nevermind that’s a word best consigned to teenage mean girls and ersatz “playas” with jeans dragging the ground. I digress. Blogs and social media concerning weight will inevitably attract shall we say…colorful comments.
Our response to “fat haters” speaks more about us than about them. If we’re hurt, we want to ease the pain. We tell ourselves the hater is jealous, venting their own self-loathing, acting out on a sense of inferiority, secretly lusting for us and angry they can’t have us, failures who don’t want to see us succeed, struggling with powerlessness in their life, wants to be us, feels threatened by us, was once hurt by someone like us, or generally manifesting symptoms of their own emotional damage.
We post Facebook memes about the fat hater’s many flaws. We write blog posts and comments with a psychological personality analysis of the hater. We even insist the haters inspire us. One blogger recently wrote a “love letter to my haters.” Another created a hashtag that was something like #hatersmakemestronger Oh please no. Why not just erect a billboard about how the hater’s comments are so important to you, they’re influencing your behavior and choices!
The awful truth is just too tough for some of us to take. Haters really do hate us sometimes. They really do think we’re stupid or misguided. They really do think we’re ugly. They really do think we’re annoying and we’re bugging the crap out of them. And the more we cast out theories about them, the more we’re broadcasting that they have actually hurt us and we’re fighting mightily to relieve that hurt.
And sometimes, the haters…are right. They’re not “haters” at all. They’re telling us something that is true and we’re hurt because we do not want to face it.
I really do not think the various “hater” theories have much to them. We’ve all experienced wishing we could say something to someone who’s bugging us, whether it’s to express our disapproval of something they’ve done or just because their ignorance is difficult to comprehend. The Internet now intensively urges us to share our opinions. So why be all shocked and upset when someone does just that? People comment because they can and they’ve likely forgotten about it fairly soon afterward. A comment has more potential impact on the person it’s written to than the person who wrote it. We might try to mock and make fun of a hater but we do that for our own benefit. Accept that you’ll never be able to tell a hater off. In the annals of “Said No One Ever” is the hater who realizes “Wow! That brilliant and insightful blogger has truly enlightened me to my own psychological deficiencies!”
We choose who we give power to in our lives. When we do, we communicate it to them in various ways. What have your actions and words been saying?